How ESD-safe packaging saves your electronic products

Electronics are everywhere.

They provide us with a level of ease, entertainment and connectivity that was once unimaginable, revolutionising the way we live and interact with the world around us.

But they would be redundant if not for metals.

Ever wondered what metals your electronics use? Here’s the answer:

  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Nickel

Then, there are metalloids that make up most of the circuitry inside, such as silicon, germanium, etc. If you look inside 8 out of 10 electronic products in the world today, you will find printed circuit boards rich in all these materials.

Metals and metalloids ensure that a healthy supply of current flows through the components of your electronic products. However, these materials also cause a lesser-known problem, which relates to packaging.

How do we protect the omnipresent printed circuit board?

ESD-safe packaging: Getting acquainted with static electricity

If you’re a manufacturer, distributor or retailer, there’s one thing to be considered before a consumer can open and use a new electronic product. It’s called electrostatic discharge (ESD) i.e., a release of static electricity when two different materials come into contact.

What’s the in-transit issue with electronic products and ESD?

Metals and metalloids are conductive materials that permit electrons to flow easily through them. And as electronic devices are transported, they encounter several surfaces and discharge static electricity onto them.

How does packaging relate to this? 

Packaging is the primary surface that comes in contact with your electronic products. During transportation, it can create a massive discharge against the electronic product, damaging sensitive components. For example, a hard disk has disk platters, read/write heads and actuators that are vulnerable to this!

Components of a hard disk

What packaging can overcome this issue? 

There are specialised ESD-safe packaging solutions that help prevent the build-up of static electricity. ESD safety can be explained in the context of the surface resistivity spectrum, as seen below.

A look at the surface resistivity spectrum

Surface resistivity is the inherent ability of every surface, both inside and outside electronic products, to resist the flow of static electricity. This property is quantified on a spectrum ranging from conductive to insulative:

  1. Conductive materials: Offer surface resistance of fewer than 1×105 ohms/square metre. These materials allow static electricity to build up quickly. Conductive materials include metals like copper, aluminium, gold, silver and steel.
  2. Static dissipative materials: Offer a surface resistance range between 1×105 and 1×109 ohms/square metre. These materials dissipate charge within themselves by relaying it to the earth.
  3. Anti-static materials: Offer a surface resistance range between 1×109 and 1×1012 ohms/square metre. These materials suppress initial charges and prevent the build-up of static electricity.
  4. Insulative materials: These are in the surface resistance range of more than 1×1012 ohms/square metre, which means they do not allow static electricity to flow through them easily. Examples of insulative materials include rubber, plastics, glass and ceramics.

Packaging material scientists have developed anti-static and dissipative plastics that fall into the above categories to match surface resistivity properties to unique product needs. These specialised plastics ensure that electronic products arrive safely and in proper working order without the build-up of static electricity.

How to choose the right ESD-safe packaging partner

When you’re choosing an ESD-safe packaging partner, make sure they adhere to international regulatory specifications such as ASTM D618.

What does this mean in terms of material science?
Before anti-static or dissipative plastics can be used for packaging, they must be tested, and the conditions in which they are to be tested must also be standardised. ASTM D618 is that standard.

How does this relate to ESD plastic packaging?

Take any plastic material, and it will have certain physical and electrical properties. Temperature and relative humidity influence these properties. And this can materially affect test results. That’s why ASTM D618 standardises the humidity and temperature conditions to which these materials are subjected before and during testing.

Why should electronic product suppliers choose ESD-safe packaging that adheres to ASTM D618?

Processors are expensive products that need ASTM-standard packaging
Processors are expensive products that need ASTM-standard packaging

ASTM D618 specifies the techniques for conditioning plastics before testing, as well as the testing circumstances. In other words, it creates a system where the electronic packaging will be in its optimal condition. These industry-standard plastics are the best source material for ESD-safe packaging. And you should prioritise a company that manufactures ESD-safe packaging under the ASTM D618 standard.

What should you look for in a packaging company that provides ESD-safe packaging?

Any firm that uses ASTM D618 plastics for its ESD Sheets and trays has an edge. These products will be better at preventing the build-up of static electricity through their optimised static dissipative and surface resistivity properties. And thus, there will be no electrostatic discharge on the surface of any valuable electronic component.

Semiconductor components like MOSFETs require ESD-safe deployment
Semiconductor components like MOSFETs require ESD-safe deployment

Look for custom thermoforming manufacturers that offer a wider choice of widths, thicknesses and colours and have anti-static packaging solutions for a range of industries. These entities will, likely, be manufacturing across several different plastic types and packaging forms: ESD trays, APET sheets, PETG, rPET sheets and lots more.

For example, AVI Global Plast’s ESD sheets and trays serve many electronic industries. We meet international quality benchmarks, have quick turnaround times, and are ready with static dissipative and anti-static packaging. Our coated anti-static virgin and recycled PET sheets are available in material gauges from 0.3 to 1.5 mm, and they come in three colours: clear, black and white.

You can explore our product line on our website. Once you have an idea of what you need, share your ESD-safe packaging requirements with us at +91 022-68559300 or and we will provide you with customised ESD sheet solutions that will serve you well! Feel free to reach us for any technical queries!

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